back to article Google in 'right to be forgotten' snub probe: Ireland tackles moans

Ireland’s privacy watchdogs are investigating complaints from 18 people who were told by Google that they wouldn’t “be forgotten” from search results. In May, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that people could demand the takedown of links to embarrassing information about themselves from web search results – but only …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An early April fool's joke - right?

    This is a complete and utter farce that appears to be being taken advantage of by dubious people who have probably got an unsavoury past or embarrassing incident they want to conceal. It's an affront to free speech and factual information. Goodness' knows how much this is costing Google - although they can probably afford it! Does this ruling apply to other search engines, as Google is not the be-all and end-all as far as searching is concerned, although probably best known.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: An early April fool's joke - right?

      I suspect that FB will be the next target for the "right to be forgotten". All those embarrassing photos and posts and employers, etc. looking in on them. tsk. tsk.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: An early April fool's joke - right?

        "I suspect that FB will be the next"

        Yeh, it's sort of awesome isn't it :-)

        BTW, who said you have the right to tell anyone to forget you? I have the right to remember!

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: An early April fool's joke - right?

          right to remember MBD? Yes you do and the original posts are not being forgotten. You can still navigate to them and you should still be able to search for them, if you use alternate search strings (i.e. do not include the person's name).

          As to those dodgy photos etc. Here in Germany Facebook have to take them down, if the people in the photo have not given their permission for the photo to be uploaded and distributed. People really in the background of a photo in a public place cannot complain; but people who are "part" of the photo, as opposed to background noise, can request that the photo be removed - and if the photo was taken on private premises (or a telephoto lens used to photograph somebody on private premises), even those in the background can request it be removed.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: An early April fool's joke - right?

      @AC have you read the ruling.

      They can't just ask for unfavourable information to be removed. It has to fit certain criteria and it will only be removed in results with the applicants name in.

      For example "Fred Bloggs, Clacton on Sea bankruptcy" would not return results of Fred's bankruptcs proceedings, but a search on "Clacton on Sea bankruptcy" should still return the results.

      As to how much it is costing Google, they manage to pull down millions of copyright infringing links every day, so less than half a million links in a quarter is chicken feed.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    What's that Spanish guy's name again?

    Bad Register! You only mentioned him, and his failure, once, in this article.

    1. Nuke
      Joke

      Re: What's that Spanish guy's name again?

      It's Mario Costeja González. Sounds like he didn't keep up his mortgage payments.

  3. Daggerchild Silver badge

    Witness the discrimination inherent in the system!

    "Although media giants are notified via Google webmaster tools when this happens, there is no formal means of redress"

    Only the big guys? Why don't the little guys get notification from these tools?

    1. John Bailey

      Re: Witness the discrimination inherent in the system!

      "Only the big guys? Why don't the little guys get notification from these tools?"

      Because the little guys can't kick up a public fuss and make Google's case for it.

      This is still Google throwing a sulk when told to go clean it's room by the big meanies at the Data protection department. Not, as they would like to pretend.. an unjust and excessive burden on poor defenceless little google.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Re: Witness the discrimination inherent in the system!

        Indeed. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Google was deliberately pinging some valid requests back simply to create some noise around the issue.

        Conversely I wouldn't be at all surprised if those 18 people are complete f*cktards and have no clue what the content of the ruling was and are expecting Google to "delete t'interwebs" just to get their nudie prod picture removed.

    2. wikkity

      Re: Witness the discrimination inherent in the system!

      The little guys get told too. A small company I did some work for had some comments made by an ex employee who left under less favourable conditions, the ex empolyee got google to "forget" the page, presumably as potential employers googling for their name would find it.

      I suggested someone (too busy) add a delete comment button for admins won't take much but don't think it affected them really, Google still listed the page if you searched for something specific to the content rather than his name.

      1. Daggerchild Silver badge

        Re: Witness the discrimination inherent in the system!

        Thing is, I thought anyone got automatic notification of these request effects if they used the Google Webmaster Tools. e.g.

        http://searchengineland.com/google-notifying-publishers-right-forgotten-removals-195634

        But .. wouldn't that mean that it's not, and never actually has been, an orchestrated Google media maniupulation conspiracy?

  4. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

    Here's the rub...

    How do you handle a situation where you have a guy who has been falsely accused of a crime, he gets charged and goes through a long and expensive trial, where it comes out the police manufactured evidence to get the conviction and hid exculpatory evidence showing your innocence.

    The guy obviously sues the city and the local police, collects millions, and tries to get on with his life.

    Yet there's google and if you google the guy's name... you don't get that he was exonerated and won millions of dollars in lawsuits, but you get his name and all of the press from his trial.

    Doesn't he have the right to get these references to him removed?

    I do agree that there are a lot of con artists who will abuse the process, but what's the expression? Better to let 100 guilty men go free than send 1 innocent man to prison?

    Just putting it out there...

    1. cynic56

      Re: Here's the rub...

      "Better to let 100 guilty men go free than send 1 innocent man to prison?".

      I believe that is the expression - although it's clearly wrong.

      1. Graham Marsden
        Facepalm

        @cynic56 - Re: Here's the rub...

        > I believe that is the expression - although it's clearly wrong.

        Yes, of course it's *far* better that we send 100 innocent people to prison rather than risk letting one guilty person go free...

        PS the Daily Mail comments page is over there ->

    2. Nuke
      Holmes

      @Ian Michael GumbyRe: Here's the rub...

      Wrote :- "if you google the guy's name... you don't get that he was exonerated and won millions of dollars in lawsuits, but you get his name and all of the press from his trial."

      If he does not like it he should complain to the web sites of the reporting press, not to Google for finding them.

      But the guy got millions for it? I'd take that deal any day.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: @Ian Michael GumbyHere's the rub...

        "If he does not like it he should complain to the web sites of the reporting press, not to Google for finding them."

        That wouldn't do much good. Newspapers are protected under public records provisions. However, Google isn't protected, and while they cannot know a priori that the information is wrong or out of date, this is personal information about people stored on their servers that they are making money from, and they should have a duty, when informed by people, to make sure that they sanitize their records of lies and outdated information.

        Basically, it's Google trying to have its cake and eat it. Media companies are protected from this kind of data protection legislation because they are keepers of the public record. Google didn't want to be a media company, as they have other duties, telling the truth about things, etc., and can get fined if they don't. Google didn't want any of that old-fashioned law stuff being applied to it, so said no to being a media company. However, it still processes personal information, and stores it all over its servers, and spews it out to anyone who asks. As such it has a duty to people to make sure it's up to date and accurate.

        It's a natural consequence of the data protection act, and if you are from the US you are probably not used to this whole government-doing-things-for-the-benefit-of-its-citizens thing, but occasionally it's pretty cool. We get holidays from work, companies cannot just fire you for no reason, the police can't just steal, sorry cause you to civilly forfeit, your stuff because they think it would be better if they had it, and so on.

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Re: @Ian Michael GumbyHere's the rub...

        That's the problem Nuke, he can't. That is what the Spanish court said, the story is public record, so can't be removed, but links to it using the guy's name can be removed from search engines...

        Think of it like a traditional newspaper. The story is big, gets lots of press and the papers in public circulation then get put in the trash. The longevity of the "public" viewing of the news is short lived. He is then pardoned and gets compensation, smaller headlines, some press, it gets forgotten.

        Somebody researching the case can still go to the paper archives (or local library archives) and get copies of the original stories. Joe Public has forgotten and isn't reminded of the wrongfull conviction when they read today's paper. Search engines by-pass this "natural" process of the public conciousness forgetting older and irrelevant stories.

        By removing the links from searches for the person's name, this "natural" forgetfullness is upheld. Yet somebody researching the story can still find the articles, because they aren't searching for the falsely accused person, but searching for news stories on the event.

        E.g. Fred Bloggs accused of Frederika Bloggs murder.

        Searching for Fred Bloggs after he was cleared and got himself "forgotten" won't return links to the trial. Searching for "Frederika Bloggs murder trial" will return those links.

        1. Nuke
          Holmes

          Re: @Ian Michael GumbyHere's the rub...

          Nuke wrote :- "If he does not like it he should complain to the web sites of the reporting press"

          DavCrav replied :- "That wouldn't do much good. Newspapers are protected under public records provisions."

          and big_D replied :- "That's the problem Nuke, he can't."

          Double whoosh.

          Of course he can complain. He can send them a letter or email complaining - just as I can complain about the Earth being round. I know perfectly well it won't change anything (try silencing the Press). But that does not justify attacking a third party instead. Just because the Earth remains round does not justify my bashing my next-door neighbour's head in, or even complaining to him about it. I should complain to God (the guy the Press think they are) - the true culprit - even if he is not likely to listen.

          But that is not my point. My point is that it is the websites of the press that are showing the info. Google is just a method (among others) of searching for website content. Big_D thinks it better if only a dedicated researcher, not Joe Public, could find this stuff - like in the olden days by looking through paper archives.

          If, IF, we accept Big_D's argument, then the answer is for newspapers to remove everything over a month old (say) from their websites. Seeing that the highest courts are now involved in this affair, let them get the statute law changed to enforce this, or establish case law by punishing the Press for keeping this stuff on-line (the Press won't do anything otherwise) instead of punishing Google, who are just a vehicle for info already in the public domain.

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: @Ian Michael GumbyHere's the rub...

            I never said that the newspapers should remove the stories from their websites. In fact I said that they cannot do this, which is why Google is being required to remove links under exceptional circumstances.

            But just like in archives of old, the news is no longer on the front page and those wishing to research a story have to do a "reasonable" amount of digging. Just googling a persons name, to see what dirt is returned, isn't going to return these few "no longer relevant" links.

            That means, if they are looking for articles on a murder, they will find the articles, including the ones about the arrest and trial, but searching for the individual's name won't bring up the articles about his arrest and trial, because he was wrongfully arrested and it has been "expunged" from searches for his name.

            1. Nuke
              Holmes

              Re: @Ian Michael GumbyHere's the rub...

              big_D wrote :- "I never said that the newspapers should remove the stories from their websites. In fact I said that they cannot do this"

              Then they should try :

              rm docroot/stories/Frederika_Bloggs_murder_trial.html

              They just need a court or a law to make them do it.

              1. big_D Silver badge

                Re: @Ian Michael GumbyHere's the rub...

                Except the court of law forbade them to delete the articles, as they are public record... So they can't (legally), even if they could (technically). Oh and they probably use a CMS, so no files to delete, just rows...

  5. ratfox Silver badge

    Our remit does not include dealing with complaints from organisations that have had search results to their websites removed from a search engine

    Whose job is this then? Is there no one responsible for that?

    1. localzuk

      Nope. No-one responsible for that. Well, yet anyway. That's gotta go through a few years of discussions before it can end up in committee to decide when a meeting should be held to discuss implementation.

  6. Graham Marsden

    "news publishers have had links to their stories blocked"

    Why do the words "Passive Aggressive" come to mind?

    This sounds like Google behaving like a stroppy teenager saying "Well I'm only doing what you told me to do!", obeying the letter of the instruction whilst ignoring the spirit of it.

    1. Goobertee

      Re: "news publishers have had links to their stories blocked"

      @Graham Marsden

      Upvote and thank you for using "stroppy" in a sentence. We merkins can learn.

      1. The First Dave

        Re: "news publishers have had links to their stories blocked"

        "We merkins can learn."

        Prove it. (Pictures or it didn't happen...)

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